Symposium 2014 — An Urban Retreat “Transformative Change”

We are all here today is because each of us has responded to a call. We have heard that call and, in the form of showing up at Starr King, what we have said is that we are not only responding to A call but to OUR call, uniquely. This willingness to step into this multi-religiosity, to meet at the intersections that is the reality of our lives, is incredibly revolutionary.”

-Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei

From August 27-28, students, faculty, staff, trustees, graduates and communities came together for two days of study, dialogue, ritual celebrations, food, music, art and community-building at our 4th Annual Symposium. Convened by our provost, Dr. Ibrahim Farajaje, the gathering provided an opportunity for participants to learn, reflect, collaborate and celebrate the theme of “transformative change” as integral to the call of religious leadership.

Welcoming participants to the Symposium, Dr. Farajaje said,

We gather to gather ourselves. To come back to ourselves. To experience together what it could mean for spirituality to reclaim or restate its role in building just, sustainable and regenerative communities.”

Our Honored Guest Teacher for the Symposium was Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, Founder of the Center for Transformative Change. An ordained Zen priest, Rev. angel has been bridging the worlds of personal transformation and social justice since her critically acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace. Calling for a paradigm shift that “changes the way change is done,” Rev. angel envisions the building of a Presence-centered social justice movement as the foundation for person freedom, a just society, and the healing and divisions of race, class, faith and politics.

During the Symposium, Rev. angel lifted up the importance of religious leaders to answer our call holistically, bringing together mind, body and spirit to transform ourselves as we endeavor to transform society.

“Our religious traditions call us to be alive. As leaders, we have the responsibility to be as alive as we possibly can. You don’t have the right to not be your full self. We cannot afford to lose you.


We have to respond to the call not [just] with our belief, not just with our ideas, not just with the idea of change or the thought of change, but with the full presence of our bodies, with the full connection of all that is me and all that is you.”

Also featured this year was an historic panel discussion of Women of Color Spiritual Leaders, bringing together Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei; Duha Margarita Duarte; Rev. Andriette Earl, of the Heart and Soul Center of Light; Bishop Yvette Flunder, of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ; Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Founder of Breathing Meditation Center; and Moderated by Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt

The 4th Annual Symposium–An Urban Retreat “Transformative Change,” was a chance for members and friends to participate in Starr King’s laboratory for the beloved community. A keystone of the Starr King Way, the Symposium provided a rich forum for multi-religious, relational, collaborative learning that continues long after the end of this two-day retreat.